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Another Rockies Pipe Proposed to Serve Midwest Markets

The Rocky Mountain natural gas pipeline proposals just keep on coming. Last week TransCanada Corp. launched a binding open season for the Pathfinder Project, a gas pipe that would move supplies northeast from the Rockies to Midwest markets. With enough support and regulatory approval, the project could be in service by late 2010.

The proposed 42-inch diameter pipeline would run for 500 miles in a northeasterly direction from Wamsutter, WY, through Montana and North Dakota to the Northern Border Pipeline Co. system for delivery into Ventura, IA, and Chicago markets. Initial capacity would be 1.2 Bcf/d, with ultimate capacity of 2 Bcf/d. Included is an option to build a 140-mile supply zone pipe that would connect Meeker, CO, to Wamsutter.

To take care of future Rocky Mountain gas production, TransCanada also proposed a future phase to extend Pathfinder another 275 miles from the Northern Border system in Noyes, MN, to Emerson, MB, where gas could be shipped to eastern markets or to storage facilities using Great Lakes Gas Transmission and TransCanada's Canadian Mainline system.

"TransCanada is evaluating different options to move an increasing supply of natural gas from the Rocky Mountains," said CEO Hal Kvisle. "The proposed Pathfinder Pipeline would provide customers with access to the growing U.S. Midwest market and potentially to eastern markets and gas storage facilities using existing assets."

The open season is scheduled to end May 22. TransCanada will accept binding bids from parties for firm natural gas transportation capacity from Meeker and from Wamsutter to Northern Border. TransCanada also is seeking nonbinding expressions of interests for the future 275-mile extension to connect Pathfinder from Northern Border Emerson.

A segment of the proposed Pathfinder Pipeline follows the same route as the proposed Bison Pipeline LLC project, in which TransCanada is partial owner through its interest in TC PipeLines LP. Bison launched a binding open season earlier this month for firm capacity on a proposed pipe that would extend from the Powder River Basin to an interconnect in Morton County, ND (see NGI, April 7).

The two projects are coordinating preliminary field activities as they develop commercial support, TransCanada stated, and the final design and location of the proposed Pathfinder project would reflect the commercial support obtained, input of stakeholders and the federal regulatory process. With enough support for the initial phases of the Pathfinder project, TransCanada said it would proceed with the regulatory process.

More information on the Pathfinder project is available from Todd Johnson at (403) 920-2070 or Eric Kaul at (403) 920-2248. Guidelines and a map of the proposed Pathfinder route may be found at www.transcanada.com/pathfinder.

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